poem index

About this poet

Donald Hall was born in Hamden, Connecticut, on September 20, 1928. He began writing as an adolescent and attended the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference at the age of sixteen—the same year he had his first work published. He earned a BA from Harvard University in Boston in 1951 and a bachelor of letters degree from the University of Oxford in England 1953.

Hall has published numerous books of poetry, most recently White Apples and the Taste of Stone: Selected Poems 1946-2006 (Houghton Mifflin, 2006); The Painted Bed (2002) and Without: Poems (1998), which was published on the third anniversary of his wife and fellow poet Jane Kenyon's death from leukemia. Other notable collections include The One Day (1988), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and a Pulitzer Prize nomination; The Happy Man (1986), which won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; and Exiles and Marriages (1955), which was the Academy's Lamont Poetry Selection for 1956.

In a review of Hall's recent Selected Poems, Billy Collins wrote in the Washington Post: "Hall has long been placed in the Frostian tradition of the plainspoken rural poet. His reliance on simple, concrete diction and the no-nonsense sequence of the declarative sentence gives his poems steadiness and imbues them with a tone of sincere authority. It is a kind of simplicity that succeeds in engaging the reader in the first few lines."

Besides poetry, Donald Hall has written books on baseball, the sculptor Henry Moore, and the poet Marianne Moore. He is also the author of children's books, including Ox-Cart Man (1979), which won the Caldecott Medal; short stories, including Willow Temple: New and Selected Stories (Houghton Mifflin, 2003); and plays. He has also published several autobiographical works, such as The Best Day The Worst Day: Life with Jane Kenyon (2005) and Life Work (1993), which won the New England Book award for nonfiction.

Hall has edited more than two dozen textbooks and anthologies, including The Oxford Book of Children's Verse in America (1990), The Oxford Book of American Literary Anecdotes (1981), New Poets of England and America (with Robert Pack and Louis Simpson, 1957), and Contemporary American Poetry (1962; revised 1972). He served as poetry editor of The Paris Review from 1953 to 1962, and as a member of editorial board for poetry at Wesleyan University Press from 1958 to 1964.

His honors include two Guggenheim fellowships, the Poetry Society of America's Robert Frost Silver medal, a Lifetime Achievement award from the New Hampshire Writers and Publisher Project, and the Ruth Lilly Prize for poetry. Hall also served as Poet Laureate of New Hampshire from 1984 to 1989. In December 1993 he and Jane Kenyon were the subject of an Emmy Award-winning Bill Moyers documentary, "A Life Together." In the June 2006, Hall was appointed the Library of Congress's fourteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. He lives in Danbury, New Hampshire.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

To the Loud Wind and Other Poems (1955)
Exiles and Marriages (1955)
The Dark Houses (1958)
A Roof of Tiger Lilies (1964)
The Alligator Bride: Poems, New and Selected (1969)
The Yellow Room: Love Poems (1971)
A Blue Wing Tilts at the Edge of the Sea: Selected Poems, 1964-1974 (1975)
The Town of Hill (1975)
Kicking the Leaves: Poems (1978)
The Toy Bone (1979)
The Happy Man (1986)
The One Day (1988)
Old and New Poems (1990)
Here at Eagle Pond (1992)
The Museum of Clear Ideas (1996)
The Old Life (1996)
Without (1998)
The Painted Bed (2002)
White Apples and the Taste of Stone: Selected Poems 1946-2006 (2006)

Prose

String Too Short to Be Saved: Recollections of Summers on a New England Farm (1961)
Henry Moore: The Life and Work of a Great Sculptor (1966)
As the Eye Moves: A Sculpture by Henry Moore (1970)
Marianne Moore: The Cage and the Animal (1970)
The Pleasures of Poetry (1971)
Writing Well (1974)
Dock Ellis in the Country of Baseball (1976)
Remembering Poets: Reminiscences and Opinions--Dylan Thomas, Robert Frost, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound (1978)
Goatfoot Milktongue Twinbird: Interviews, Essays, and Notes on Poetry, 1970-76 (1978)
To Read Literature (1980)
The Weather for Poetry: Essays, Reviews, and Notes on Poetry, 1977-81 (1982)
Seasons at Eagle Pond (1987)
Poetry and Ambition (1988)
Life Work (1993)
Death to the Death of Poetry: Essays, Reviews, Notes, Interviews (1994)
Old Home Day (1994)
The Farm Summer, 1942 (1994)
Principal Products of Portugal: Prose Pieces (1995)
The Best Day The Worst Day: Life with Jane Kenyon (2005)

Drama

An Evening's Frost (1965)
Bread and Roses (1975)
Ragged Mountain Elegies (1983)

Essays

To Keep Moving: Essays, 1959-1969 (1980)
Fathers Playing Catch with Sons: Essays on Sport (Mostly Baseball) (1985)
Winter (1986)

For Children

Andrew the Lion Farmer (1959)
Riddle Rat (1977)
Ox-Cart Man (1979)
The Man Who Lived Alone (1984)
I Am the Dog, I Am the Cat (1994)
Summer of 1944 (1994)
Lucy's Christmas (1994)
Lucy's Summer (1995)
Old Home Day (1996)
When Willard Met Babe Ruth (1996)
The Milkman's Boy (1997)

Letters

The Ideal Bakery (1987)


Multimedia

 

 

Tubes

Donald Hall, 1928
           1
"Up, down, good, bad," said
the man with the tubes
up his nose, " there's lots
of variety…
However, notions
of balance between
extremes of fortune
are stupid—or at
best unobservant."
He watched as the nurse
fed pellets into
the green nozzle that
stuck from his side. "Mm,"
said the man. " Good. Yum.
(Next time more basil…)
When a long-desired
baby is born, what
joy! More happiness
than we find in sex,
more than we take in
success, revenge, or
wealth. But should the same
infant die, would you
measure the horror
on the same rule? Grief
weighs down the seesaw;
joy cannot budge it."

           2
"When I was nineteen,
I told a thirty-
year-old man what a
fool I had been when
I was seventeen.
'We were always,' he
said glancing down, 'a
fool two years ago.'"

           3
The man with the tubes
up his nostrils spoke
carefully: "I don't
regret what I did,
but that I claimed I
did the opposite.
If I was faithless
or treacherous and
cowardly, I had
my reasons—but I
regret that I called
myself loyal, brave,
and honorable."

           4
"Of all illusions,"
said the man with the 
tubes up his nostrils,
IVs, catheter,
and feeding nozzle,
"the silliest one
was hardest to lose.
For years I supposed
that after climbing
exhaustedly up
with pitons and ropes,
I would arrive at
last on the plateau
of walking-level-
forever-among-
moss-with-red-blossoms.
But of course, of course:
A continual
climbing is the one
form of arrival
we ever come to—
unless we suppose
that the wished-for height
and house of desire
is tubes up the nose."

From White Apples and the Taste of Stone. Copyright © 2006 by Donald Hall. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

Donald Hall

Donald Hall

Donald Hall was born in Hamden, Connecticut, on September 20, 1928. He began

by this poet

poem
Pale gold of the walls, gold
of the centers of daisies, yellow roses
pressing from a clear bowl. All day
we lay on the bed, my hand
stroking the deep
gold of your thighs and your back.
We slept and woke
entering the golden room together,
lay down in it breathing 
quickly, then
slowly again,
caressing and dozing
poem
If he and she do not know each other, and feel confident
they will not meet again; if he avoids affectionate words;

if she has grown insensible skin under skin; if they desire
only the tribute of another’s cry; if they employ each other

as revenge on old lovers or families of entitlement and steel—
then there
poem
"Even when I danced erect
by the Nile’s garden
I constructed Necropolis.

Ten million fellaheen cells
of my body floated stones
to establish a white museum."

Grisly, foul, and terrific
is the speech of bones,
thighs and arms slackened

into desiccated sacs of flesh
hanging from an armature
where muscle was, and